Formal Hall Code of Behaviour

Read the Formal Hall Code of Behaviour

Members of the College and their guests attending Formal Hall are required to abide by this Code of Behaviour. Failure to do so will result in non-admittance or ejection.


  • Only Members of St Catharine’s College and their guests are permitted to attend Formal Hall.
  • Formal Hall is for Members and their personal guests; it is not designed for large groups, societies or organisations to have dinner. These need to be booked as private dinners.
  • All Members must have purchased appropriate tickets and signed in any guests by the time stated on the Formal Hall booking system.
  • The name of the Member and the individual names of guests must be entered on the online Formal Hall booking system when purchasing tickets. Failure to enter correct names will result in the booking being deleted or non-admittance to Formal Hall.
  • Tickets or guest names cannot be altered after the closing time for booking into Formal Hall.
  • Members are responsible for their guests at all times.
  • Formal Hall continues until at least 9.00 pm or until all courses have been served; the lights will then be turned up, and all diners should have left by 9.15 pm.


  • Members must enter Formal Hall with their guests.
  • Those attending Formal Hall must be seated no later than 7.30 pm. Those arriving after that time will be refused entry.


  • Formal Hall is an occasion on which academical dress is worn – all members of St Catharine’s should wear gowns.
  • Members and their guests must be dressed in suitably smart dress.  ‘Smart dress’ is defined without reference to considerations of gender identity or expression.  This means a suit (or trousers and jacket), a shirt with a collar, a tie, and shoes (not trainers or sandals), or equivalently formal dress.  The staff are instructed to refuse admission to anyone coming to Formal Hall improperly dressed.


  • All attending Formal Hall must behave with decorum and respect to the College, its staff, its property and its traditions. In particular, rudeness or otherwise unmannerly behaviour to College staff or serious misconduct will result in immediate ejection from Formal Hall.
  • No one may leave his or her seat before grace without permission, except in case of medical emergency or when evacuation of Hall is necessary. Before entering Hall those dining should ensure that they are sufficiently comfortable to remain seated till the grace. Once dinner has started, members are not to wander from table to table.
  • Only one bottle of wine or soft drink may be brought in by each person attending Formal Hall. Alcoholic beverages other than wine may not be brought into Formal Hall. In particular, Members and their guests may not take glasses, bottles or other containers from the Bar to Formal Hall.
  • No glassware or crockery may be taken out of Formal Hall.
  • Subject to the following exception, the use of cameras and mobile phones is not allowed. The exception is that photographs may be taken once the Fellows have left (or, if no Fellows are dining, after the point at which they would have left).
  • Attendees must not to sing or be loud during Formal Hall.
  • Attendees are not permitted to make general announcements, toasts or speeches during Formal Hall while High Table is sitting. Announcements after High Table has departed may be permitted in special circumstances, on consultation with the Hall Manager.
  • Drinking games are strictly forbidden; disciplinary action will be taken against those who encourage such behaviour as well as those who participate.
  • Departures from the norms of civilised dining are not permitted. Non-exhaustive examples of such departures include singing; standing on chairs or tables; hands-free eating.